Short-term Scientific Mission or Virtual Mission 2022 – GP5

Call for Applications

Short-term Scientific Mission or Virtual Mission 2022 – GP5

Proof of Concept (Working Groups 1 & 2 - Analysis Arena) and Working Group 4 (Field Arena)

Deadlines for applications 23:59CET, Tuesday 1st March 2022

The European Raptor Biomonitoring Facility (ERBFacility) COST Action CA16224, Working Groups 1&2 (Proof of Concept - Analysis Arena) and Working Group 4 (Field Arena), hereby announces this Call for Applications for up to three short-term scientific missions (STSM) or virtual missions (VM) available for Grant Period 5 (ending 16 April 2022).

1. Context

ERBFacility is a pan-European network that seeks to reduce costs imposed by contaminants on human and wildlife health, by using raptors (birds of prey and owls) as sentinels on environmental contamination. ERBFacility seeks to improve effectiveness evaluation, risk assessment and early warning in relation to regulation of priority substances, plant protection products, biocides, veterinary products and heavy metals, with a focus on persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) compounds. ERBFacility involves linked research coordination and capacity building in three arenas: (1) analysis (academics, laboratories, regulatory agencies); (2) collections (natural history museums, environmental specimen banks and other collections providing samples for analysis); (3) field (gathering samples and relevant contextual data). For more information see the Action description and MoU available on the COST website and see the ERBFacility website.

2. Purpose of this call

* The purpose of this call is to contribute to the following ERBFacility objectives:

Objective C1: To build capacity in the ‘analysis arena’ through networking and collaboration among ecotoxicologists, collaborating laboratories and regulators, including through: (a) collaborative work on objective R1 (assessment, ERBioMSframework); (b) piloting joint assessment and reporting between collaborating labs to deliver proof of concept; (c) developing guidance to integrate reports with regulatory assessments of relevant regulatory bodies (e.g. ECHA, EFSA, national competent authorities).

Objective R3: To develop a framework, standards and protocols for a European Raptor Sampling Programme (ERSamP). This will provide for collection of the right raptor samples from the right locations at the right times. Standards and protocols will ensure harmonised sampling methods and harmonised recording of relevant field data.

3. Scientific priorities, number of STSMs/VMs, preferred timing

Applications under this call should relate priorities of the ERBFacility Working Groups 1, 2 (Analysis Arena – Proof of Concept), and 4 (Field Arena) for Grant Period 5, as outlined here.

Up to 2 missions (Working Groups 1 & 2 - Proof of Concept)


Reference WGs1&2/GP5/STSM1&2

Up to 2 missions.

ERBFacility is carrying out a Proof of Concept study, which will attempt to demonstrate how our joined up approach involving ecotoxicologists (analysts), storage facilities (museum and specimen banks) and field researchers (to collect samples and supporting population data) can deliver enhanced monitoring of contaminants across Europe using raptors. The focal species for this study is the Tawny Owl. The network has collected and analysed tawny owl livers across several European countries for mercury, lead and anticoagulant rodenticides.

The two proposed STSMs will carry out the analysis to describe the spatial patterns in these contaminants at a pan-European level. The results will be crossed with relevant contextual data for the tawny owl and the focal contaminants

These STSM will ideally start as soon as possible, and no later than 7 March 2022. The length of these missions is expected to be 30 days.

One STSM or Virtual Mission (WG4)

TITLE: Review of contextual data and guidance for Tawny Owl monitoring to support a future European Raptor Sampling Programme

Reference WG4/GP5/vSTSM1


Work has been done by the Field Arena (Working Group 4) of the ERBfacility COST Action to review a range of population, migratory, demographic and dietary data for Tawny owl across Europe to support the interpretation of European-wide contaminants analysis under ERBF Proof of Concept, where Tawny Owl was selected as a target species. We now invite candidates who would like to support this work by helping to write up the results of the review for publication and also develop specific Tawny Owl monitoring guidance to form part of the ERBFacility online 'Advice Hub'. This mission will need to begin in March 2022 and be completed by mid-April 2022 and can be conducted virtually.

4. Expected output from the STSMs / virtual missions

The STSMs/VMs are required to produce a scientific report (see Reporting Template, attached) of 2-3 pages, to be submitted to the MC Chair and to the Host Institution, within 30 days of completion of the mission.

5. Mission hosts

Applicants must arrange an appropriate host institution for their mission. Applicants are free to identify and contact a suitable host. Applicants may in particular wish to find a host among members of the ERBFacility Management Committee or at other research institutions. However, please note that the following have already indicated that they may be able to host a mission:

Potential host institute

IREC-Universidad Castilla La Mancha


Dr. Rafael Mateo



Universidade de Évora


Dr. Rui Lourenço




National Institute of Biology, Ljubljana


Dr. Al Vrezec



6. Eligibility

STSMs are exchange visits aimed at supporting individual mobility, strengthening existing networks and fostering collaboration between COST Action Participants.

VMs are similar, but do not require international mobility. Instead, they are performed virtually, with remote guidance from the Host.

A STSM/VM should specifically contribute to the scientific objectives of the COST Action, whilst at the same time allowing those partaking in the missions to learn new techniques, gain access to specific data, instruments and/or methods not available in their own institutions/organisations.

STSM/VM applicants must be engaged in an official research programme as a PhD student or postdoctoral fellow, or may be employed by, or affiliated to, an institution or legal entity, which has within its remit a clear association with performing research. Persons holding a First or Masters Degree and not yet registered for a PhD are also eligible.